Facial Recognition Tech Secretly Deployed at Taylor Swift Concert

Facial recognition was secretly used to scan attendees of a Taylor Swift concert earlier this year, it has now been revealed.

The technology was deployed at a kiosk set up at California’s Rose Bowl in May. The kiosk featured a display showing highlights from the pop star’s rehearsal, attracting the attention of Swift fans; and it had a hidden camera through which facial recognition technology scanned their faces. The attendees’ faces were then matched against a database containing images of Taylor Swift’s known stalkers.

The deployment appears to have come to light through Mike Downing, a senior employee of the Oak View Group security consultancy for concert venues, who spoke to Rolling Stone about it. Downing said he was invited to see a demo of the technology from its manufacturer, which he did not name; nor did he offer an indication of its effectiveness.

According to a report from The Verge, the surreptitious use of this biometric technology is likely within the legal rights of concert organizers, since these kinds of performances are technically considered private events. Still, it appears unlikely that the technology would pass muster in Illinois, one of the few states to have implemented biometric privacy legislation requiring organizations to obtain the explicit consent of the subjects of biometric scans.

That points to the broader issue of regulation, which has come more and more into the spotlight this year as police agencies have started to deploy biometric surveillance systems in public, and major tech companies and other stakeholders have called on the government to establish reasonable limits to how this technology can be used.

Sources: Rolling Stone, The Verge, The Hill

December 14, 2018 – by Alex Perala